Oakland Raiders' 2019 free-agent signings: Tyrell Williams adds another WR weapon

Clive Rose/Getty Images

A breakdown of the Oakland Raiders' 2019 free-agent signings.

Tyrell Williams, receiver

The Oakland Raiders signed Williams. Here’s a closer look at the receiver who spent the past four seasons with the Chargers:

What it means: Derek Carr is a happy man, The Raiders WR Corps got a massive upgrade with the trade acquisition of Antonio Brown and the signing of Williams. It also might allow for veteran Jordy Nelson to move inside to the slot, where he might have lost a step but can still outrun linebackers. Williams is a solid No. 2 receiver who had a career year in 2016, catching 69 passes (on 119 targets) for 1,059 yards and 7 touchdowns, with Keenan Allen out with a torn ACL. It might also make Seth Roberts, who has a cap number of $4.65 million for 2019, a possible cut.

What’s the risk: Williams’ production has gone down since his massive 2016 season, from 69 catches 1,059 yards, 7 TD to 43-728-4 to 41-653-5. But that is to be expected from a No. 2 receiver, no? The undrafted rookie from Division II Western Oregon has exceeded expectations, so the Raiders hope a regression, as well as a return bout with the dropsies, does not come calling.


Trent Brown, offensive tackle

The Raiders signed Brown to a four-year deal worth up to $66 million, with $36.75 million guaranteed. Here’s a closer look at the offensive tackle who spent last season with the New England Patriots:

What it means: In giving Brown the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history, the Raiders are not sold on third-round draft pick Brandon Parker, who started 12 games at right tackle and had uneven results, and are likely moving on from veteran tackle Donald Penn, who suffered a season-ending groin injury in Week 4 after moving to right tackle following the first-round selection of left tackle Kolton Miller. Penn also has a salary cap number of $7.225 million for 2019. Brown is getting left tackle money, though, so you have to wonder if Miller is the one moving to the right side after a season of fits, starts and injuries.

What’s the risk: What if Brown, the largest man in the NFL at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, was simply a byproduct of being in a strong system in New England and does not jibe with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable’s scheme? That’s a lot of money to give to a guy who, until last year, was a right tackle for the 49ers, who drafted him in the seventh round, in his first three seasons.


Lamarcus Joyner, free safety

The Raiders signed Lamarcus Joyner to a four-year deal worth about $42 million. Here's a closer look at the free safety who spent the past five seasons with the Rams:

What it means: The rebuilding Raiders have their starting safeties, with Joyner at free safety and Karl Joseph, who improved down the stretch in defensive coordinator Paul Guenther's scheme last season, on the strong side. The Raiders had a major need at the back end of the defense and Joyner, who played last season on the Rams' franchise tag at $11.28 million, had one interception and ranked third on the team with 78 tackles.

What's the risk: Joyner is just 5-foot-8, 191 pounds, and Joseph is 5-10, 205 pounds. Not the largest of safety duos. And the Raiders have some pretty big and athletic tight ends to contend with in the AFC West. Still, Joyner, who has four career interceptions with a pick-six, 25 pass deflections and five sacks, is a good cover man as he began his career as a nickel cornerback.


Jordan Devey, offensive line

The Raiders signed Devey to a reported one-year deal. Here’s a closer look at the interior offensive lineman who spent the previous three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs:

What it means: The Raiders might have found a replacement for the versatile Jon Feliciano, who departed for the Bills in free agency. Like Feliciano, Devey is a backup center who can play both guard spots. In fact, Devey started two games at center for the Chiefs’ high-powered offense last season before he went down with a torn pectoral muscle. And the Raiders, depending upon any shuffling they do -- move Gabe Jackson back to left guard from right guard? -- have an opening at left guard with the trade of Kelechi Osemele. Pro Football Focus gave Devey career-high grades overall (57.7) and in pass-blocking (78.4) as he gave up only one total pressure and no sacks combined in his starts, against the Patriots and Bengals.

What’s the risk: Is he fully recovered from his injury? Devey is a massive man at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds and Devey has started 17 of his 39 career games in spending time with the Patriots (2013-14), 49ers (2015) and Chiefs (2016-18). The closest he ever came to being a full-time starter was with the Niners, with nine starts at right guard in 15 games, and last year.


Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle

Hankins re-signed to a two-year deal.

What it means: The Raiders like how active the 2013 second-round pick was after joining the team prior to Week 2, following a foot injury suffered by defensive tackle Justin Ellis. Hankins was also a calming influence on rookies Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall, even if he was not much of a pass-rush threat. Still, Hankins, who started 14 of the 15 games in which he played last season, led Oakland’s defensive tackles with 36 tackles, 21 solo, and recovered two fumbles against Cleveland in the Raiders’ unlikely 45-42 overtime win in Week 4.

What’s the risk: Oakland being content with Hankins, who is just 27, and not further addressing the interior of the defensive line. Because, as Jon Gruden said at the combine, “We drafted two young pass rushers inside last year and we might be in the market for another one.” Hankins is solid if unspectacular as his 66.5 overall PFF grade was fourth among Raiders defensive players with at least 250 snaps.


Vontaze Burfict, linebacker

The Raiders signed Vontaze Burfict to a reported one-year deal worth up to $5 million. Here's a closer look at the linebacker who spent the previous seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals:

What it means: The Raiders got a little nastier on defense, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who had him in Cincinnati, believes he can reign=in the volatile Burfict. And so long as he is focused and rejuvenated, Burfict figures to slide in at middle linebacker and provide the thump that Oakland has been missing for many years. “I'm not a dirty player,” Burfict said in a conference call. “I play a physical position, which is middle linebacker, outside linebacker. That's physical. I can't go in there playing patty-cake. If I go out there playing patty-cake, then I'm going to be getting run over.”

What's the risk: Can the Raiders truly depend on him? Burfict had had 11 different fines or suspensions in his seven-year NFL career and has missed games in three straight seasons due to suspensions, including a four-gamer last season for PEDs. He has missed at least a game in three straight seasons due to concussions. He has only played all 16 games once, in 2013, and went to the Pro Bowl that year. Since then he has missed 37 of 80 possible regular-season games. Then there is his history with new Raiders receiver Antonio Brown. “There's nothing negative over here,” Burfict insisted. “We're all on the same team. We're trying to win a championship over here ... honestly, we might be the closest friends on the team, you know what I mean? So, just got to go along with it and I can't wait to meet him.”


Nevin Lawson, cornerback

The Raiders signed Nevin Lawson to a one-year deal worth up to $3.05 million, per NFL Network. Here's a closer look at the cornerback who spent the previous five seasons with the Detroit Lions:

What it means: The Raiders continue to address specific needs in the secondary with a solid, if unspectacular, signing. Lawson, who has been a full-time starter the past three seasons, should compete with Daryl Worley and Gareon Conley. Lawson, who has started 54 of his career 62 games, might also compete with newly-signed Lamarcus Joyner at nickel cornerback. The Raiders also used a fourth-round draft pick on Nick Nelson last season.

What's the risk: The Raiders are high on both Conley and Worley, so if Lawson beats either of them out, something went wrong in their respective developments. Especially since Lawson, a small corner at 5-foot-9, 192 pounds, has yet to intercept a pass in 62 career games. His lone career turnover was a forced fumble/fumble recovery that he scooped up after hitting Browns tight end Seth Devalve and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown in 2017. He is scrappy, though, with 25 career passes defensed.


Dwayne Harris, return specialist/receiver

The Raiders re-signed Dwayne Harris. Here's a closer look at the return specialist/receiver who spent the 2018 season with the Raiders after playing the previous three seasons with the Giants:

What it means: The Raiders, under special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, truly put a premium on special teams. Harris is one of the most electric return men in the NFL, or did you miss his Christmas Eve Miracle 99-yard punt return for a touchdown, when two Broncos tried to down the ball inside the 1-yard line? A quick-thinking Harris picked up the ball and was off, down the right sideline. It was the play of the year for a 4-12 team that won that night, 27-14.

What's the risk: Sure, Harris tied for the league lead with a 14.1 yards per punt return average, the second-best such mark in franchise history. And he did win a pair of AFC special teams player of the week awards while also averaging 22.9 yards per kickoff return. He also pitched in on offense, catching six passes for 40 yards. But Harris turns 32 in mid-September.


Erik Harris, safety

The Raiders re-signed Erik Harris to a two-year deal worth up to $6.5 million, with $2.5 million guaranteed.

What it means: Jon Gruden loves Harris -- absolutely loves him -- and his lunchbox mentality. Harris is not a starter. Oakland needs a ballhawk-type free safety to pair with strong safety Karl Joseph, but he brings a certain mentality to the roster and position that Gruden needs in this rebuild. Harris played admirably in appearing in all 16 games last season, starting four, as he is more of a glue guy than every down defensive back, even with his two interceptions and seven passes defensed.

What’s the risk: Harris’ relatively strong play -- his PFF overall grade of 73.5 ranked 31st out of 95 safeties -- being more of a mirage than reality and Oakland believing enough in him that the Raiders do not adequately address the position in the draft. He is a nice player, a “young” 29-year-old once the season starts, and one that would seemingly blossom in the right role, not rushed into a role he is not ready for … yet.


Denzelle Good, offensive lineman

The Raiders signed Denzelle Good to a one-year contract extension. Here's a closer look at the guard who joined the Raiders off waivers from the Colts prior to Week 14 last season:

What it means: Initially, Good being retained before hitting unrestricted free agency looked like a move for depth. But after left guard Kelechi Osemele was slated to be traded to the New York Jets, Good may be primed to compete for a starting job at right tackle. That is, if Gabe Jackson is moved back to left tackle, where he played his first two seasons with the Raiders. Good started the final three games of the year at right guard for an injured Jackson.

What's the risk: Good is massive for a guard at 6-foot-5, 345 pounds but has played only 12 games total over the past two seasons, starting nine, so if he is indeed in line to become a starter, that would be a huge leap for him. And Oakland is already going to be breaking in another new starter on the offensive line in tackle Trent Brown, though it is not clear yet whether Brown will be on the left or right, in relation to last year's first-round pick Kolton Miller.


Josh Mauro, defensive end

The Raiders signed Josh Mauro to a free-agent deal on Friday. Here's a closer look at the defensive end who spent the previous season with the New York Giants:

What it means: The Raiders now have two defensive ends under contract, and Arden Key, a third-round draft pick last season, and Mauro have a combined four career sacks, with Mauro racking up three in five seasons. Not exactly a fearsome pass rush from the edge now, right? No doubt Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will address this in the draft, after the Raiders had a league-low 13 sacks last season, or, .5 of one sack more than Khalil Mack had with the Bears. Then again, Ezekiel Ansah and Justin Houston are still out there in free agency, for what it's worth.

What's the risk: Mauro is a physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 282 pounds and has been described as a tough, good rotation player who plays with power. But his relatively paltry three sacks in 59 career games, 30 starts, do not necessarily warm the cockles of Raider Nation's Silver and Black heart. Also, Mauro served a four-game suspension for PEDs last season. He did play for new Raiders defensive line coach Brentson Buckner in Arizona so there is familiarity. How much of a factor will Mauro, a native of Saint Albans, England, be for Oakland when the Raiders play Mack and the Bears in London?


Mike Glennon, quarterback

The Raiders signed Mike Glennon to a free-agent contract on Friday. Here's a closer look at the quarterback who spent last season with the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: The Raiders, like 31 other NFL teams, are obviously not interested in Colin Kaepernick. Not with this signing. Oakland does, though, now have two backup quarterbacks on their roster as Glennon, who has started 22 of his 27 career games, joins Nathan Peterman behind $125-million man Derek Carr. Glennon, a third-round pick of the Buccaneers and 13-game rookie starter in 2013, is tall for a quarterback at 6-foot-6, giving coach Jon Gruden a different wrinkle on offense. Glennon would also be a seemingly much cheaper option than the recently-cut AJ McCarron, who was scheduled to have a $5 million cap number for Oakland.

What's the risk: None, really, so long as Carr, who suffered broken bones in his hand, ankle and back in 2016 and 2017, stays upright. With 35 TD passes and 20 INTs in his career, Glennon is a relatively safe choice as a backup. The risky play, then, is if Glennon, who is 6-16 in his career, has to replace Carr for some reason.


Landry Jones, quarterback

Oakland signed Jones to a free-agent contract. Here’s a closer look at the quarterback who spent his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers:

What it means: The Raiders have a full-fledged battle for backup quarterback -- in late March -- between Jones, Mike Glennon, signed on March 22, and Nathan Peterman, who joined the Raiders practice squad late last season. Plus, Jones has history with new Raiders receiver Antonio Brown, the two having played together in Pittsburgh, which drafted Jones in the third round out of Oklahoma, from 2013 through 2017. Plus, the Raiders are still going to do their due diligence in working out Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray in the coming days.

What’s the risk: For a backup to Derek Carr? Not much. Though Jones has not played in an NFL game since Dec. 31, 2017. He last started just five games in his career, going 3-2, and while he was on the Jaguars’ roster until being released in November, he did not play. There is a fine line between rust and rest for an NFL QB.


Curtis Riley, free safety

The Raiders signed Curtis Riley to a free-agent contract on Friday. Here's a closer look at the free safety who spent last season with the New York Giants:

What it means: The Raiders signed a safety who is actually, get this, at least 6-foot tall, and who can actually be described as a ball hawk, what with his four interceptions last season for the Giants. Strong safety Karl Joseph is 5-foot-10 and free-agent pickup Lamarcus Joyner is 5-8. Perhaps Riley is the starting free safety while Joyner plays nickel cornerback. Plus, QB Derek Carr will be happy in having a former Fresno State Bulldogs teammate around.

What's the risk: Before last year's four picks, Riley had one INT in 11 games over two seasons. Was last year the exception, rather than the rule? Departed Raiders safeties Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson combined for five of Oakland's 12 INTs last year, so Riley will have to seemingly make up for lost production, so to speak.


Isaiah Crowell, running back

The Raiders signed Isaiah Crowell to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million. Here's a closer look at the running back who spent last season with the New York Jets:

What it means: While Jon Gruden said this week that the door will always remain open for Marshawn Lynch to return, this move likely closes the door on Doug Martin, who was solid for Oakland after Lynch went down with a groin injury on Oct. 14. Imagine Gruden inviting Lynch to training camp to battle it out with Crowell, Chris Warren III, Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington for three roster spots. Crowell averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season, while both Lynch and Martin averaged 4.2 yards and Crowell is a much better pass-catching threat than either, averaging 30 receptions for 218 yards over the past three seasons. Maybe Gruden has his Charlie Garner 2.0 after all.

What's the risk: Gruden wants a "three-down back," and while Crowell started 32 of 32 games in 2016 and 2017, it was for a woeful Browns team that went a combined 1-31. Last year he started six of 13 games for the Jets. Does he have true staying power? Sure, Crowell may be a Garner clone for Gruden but even Garner served as the lightning to Tyrone Wheatley's thunder in Gruden's first Oakland tour.


Brandon Marshall, outside linebacker

The Raiders signed Brandon Marshall to a one-year deal worth up to $4.1 million. Here's a closer look at the linebacker back who spent the past six seasons with the Broncos:

What it means: The Raiders addressed another position of need with a veteran who knows the AFC West intimately. Marshall played more of a nickel/dime role at linebacker last season in Denver and he joins a Raiders' group that includes presumed starters in weakside linebacker Tahir Whitehead, middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict and strongside linebacker Marquel Lee, along with Jason Cabinda, Nick Morrow, Kyle Wilbur, James Cowser and Shilique Calhoun. Marshall needs to stay healthy.

What's the risk: Marshall turns 30 on Sept. 10 and has dealt with knee issues the past few seasons, missing five games in 2016 and five more last season, when he only started seven of his 11 games. At 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, Marshall is a tad undersized and can get caught and stonewalled by bigger guards on the inside. He only had 42 tackles and did not record an interception or a sack last season, so does a change of scenery for the Las Vegas native, with the thought of going home to Sin City in 2020, rejuvenate him?


Luke Willson, tight end

The Raiders signed Luke Willson to a free-agent deal on Friday. Here’s a closer look at the tight end who spent last season with the Detroit Lions:

What it means: Willson is a combo-blocking/receiving tight end and, as a fifth-round draft pick of Seattle out of Rice in 2013, he enjoyed his best seasons with the Seahawks in general, with offensive line coach Tom Cable in particular. Now that Cable is in Oakland, the reunion gives Oakland depth and competition at tight end -- he joins a tight end room that already includes Darren Waller, Lee Smith, Derek Carrier and Paul Butler -- and by no stretch means the Raiders’ search for a tight end early in the draft is no longer necessary.

What’s the risk: The suspicion that five tight ends on a training camp roster is enough. If either of the Iowa tight ends in T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant are still on the board when the Raiders pick at either No. 24 or No. 27, they would have to give serious thought about taking them -- even as Raiders coach Jon Gruden said at the NFL owners meetings that Waller could be the top pass-catching tight end in his offense. Oakland, which allowed Pro Bowler Jared Cook to leave for the Saints in free agency, should not merely settle with this group of tight ends. Not even with Willson having caught 102 passes for 1,216 yards and 11 TDs in 86 games, 45 starts, over six seasons, and the other four combining for 117 catches for 964 yards and 11 TDs.


Ryan Grant, wide receiver

The Raiders signed Ryan Grant to a free-agent deal. Here’s a closer look at the receiver who spent last season with the Indianapolis Colts:

What it means: The Raiders’ receiving room got a little more crowded…when it comes to battling for that No. 3, No. 4 or even the No. 5 spot. Because while fellow new acquisitions Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams are the unquestioned Nos. 1 and 2 wideouts, Grant is in a mix with another signee in JJ Nelson and returners Seth Roberts, Marcell Ateman, Dwayne Harris, Keon Hatcher, Saeed Blacknall and Rashard Davis.

What’s the risk: Grant is not a gamebreaker and had trouble staying healthy last season, missing two games while starting a career-high 10 games. His 9.5 yards per catch average was the second-lowest of his five-year career, as was his one touchdown catch. And after starting last season as the Colts' No. 2 receiver, he quickly fell down the depth chart. A puzzling addition, along with J.J. Nelson, when Jordy Nelson, who was cut despite being given a bonus for 2019 in December, played so adequately in the offense late last season.


The Raiders Jordan Richards to a free-agent deal on Friday. Here’s a closer look at the safety who spent last season with the Atlanta Falcons:

What it means: On paper it looks like the Raiders signed some competition for Karl Joseph at strong safety, After all, Richards was a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2015 out of Stanford. And Richards, after being traded to Atlanta last year, did start 12 of 15 games for the Falcons after starting just seven of 41 over three years in New England. Plus, at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, Richards is an inch taller and five pounds heavier than Joseph, Oakland’s first-round pick in 2016 who has three career INTs.

What’s the risk?: Richards is seen as one of the bigger swings and misses in Patriots draft history. In 59 career games, over four seasons, he has yet to register an interception. His three passes defensed last season were a career high, and half of his career total. Perhaps another change of scenery, this time a pseudo-homecoming for the Stanford product who grew up in Sacramento, will continue that upswing.


The Raiders signed Alex Barrett to a free-agent deal on Friday. Here’s a closer look at the defensive end who spent this spring with the San Diego Fleet of the defunct American Alliance Football league:

What it means: The Raiders now have three, count ’em, three defensive ends on the roster as Barrett joins returner Arden Key and newcomer Josh Mauro in the DE room. Surely this will be addressed further in the draft but Barrett, who spent most of the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the Lions practice squad, does bring 15 tackles and two sacks with him from the San Diego Fleet. At San Diego State, from 2013-16, Barrett had 19 career sacks, tied for fourth-most in school history.

What’s the risk: Not much, if Barrett is being brought in more as a look-see, rather than being seen as a pass-rushing savior for a team that finished last in the NFL with 13 sacks a year ago. Still, you have to figure that Barrett is intriguing and coming in hungry and, well, there are many reps to be had at edge-rusher at the moment. There’s a reason coach Jon Gruden kept telling new general manager, “Arden Key and me. Arden Key and me. What are you going to do at defensive end, Mike?”


De’Mornay Pierson-El, wide receiver

The Raiders signed Pierson-El to a free-agent deal. Here’s a closer look at the wide receiver who spent this spring with the Salt Lake Stallions of the defunct American Alliance Football league:

What it means: The Raiders have now dipped their toes into the AAF twice after having signed defensive end Alex Barrett of the San Diego Fleet on Friday. It also means Oakland’s receivers room is crowded as Pierson-El is the 10th receiver on the Raiders roster. At 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, Pierson-El is more a slot receiver and he could conceivably compete there.

What’s the risk: None. None at all. Why not bring in a guy who led his team in catches (36) and receiving yards (414) and had a TD catch in eight games to see if his skills translate? After all, he has spent time with Washington and in the CFL with the Montreal Allouettes so he brings some different knowledge. Plus, the Nebraska product who caught 100 passes for 1,309 yards and 11 TDs and ran the ball 26 times for 67 yards in four seasons for the Cornhuskers, might be able to contribute on special teams.


Benson Mayowa, defensive end

The Raiders signed Benson Mayowa to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million. Here’s a closer look at the defensive end who spent last season with the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: The sack-deficient Raiders, who had a league-low 13 sacks in 2018, now have four defensive ends on the roster in Mayowa, Arden Key, Josh Mauro and Alex Barrett. Mayowa is the most accomplished of the four with 13 career sacks in six seasons, with two coming in his two previous seasons with the Raiders, in 2014 and 2015. Mayowa had a career-best six sacks for the Cowboys in 2016 and had four last season for the Cardinals.

What’s the risk: Settling. Of course, a million times, of course the Raiders need help in the draft, be it someone like Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams with the No. 4 overall pick. Mayowa provides depth and, as mentioned before, became the most accomplished pass-rusher on Oakland’s roster the second he signed his contract, even if Key may have the most potential. The bar is low at the moment, even as Mayowa raises it a tad.